Bhasan Char is more livable and safer for the forcibly displaced Rohingya people compared to Cox's Bazar, as the island grants them access to modern housing, roads and dams, as well as a three-layer disaster safety measure designed to protect them from floods and cyclones.
These findings are from a recent research titled "Relocation of the Rohingya Displaced People from Cox's Bazar to Bhasan Char: Opportunities and Challenges," which focused on several indicators – including facilities, livelihood, social condition and security concerns.
A team from the Dhaka University's Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, in collaboration with the Central Foundation for International and Strategic Studies (CFISS) conducted the study to assess the endurance and human rights aspects of the Bhasan char shelter project.
Addressing a seminar organised to disseminate the findings on Saturday, lead researcher Prof Dr Md Rafiqul Islam said, "Bhasan Char provides livelihood opportunities to Rohingyas, such as agriculture and fishing to name a few.
"Modern shelters have been built there, along with special facilities for education, treatment, religious activities and entertainment."
The study also found that the facilities for Rohingyas are insufficient in Cox's Bazar camps. There is a lack of housing, treatment, livelihood, electricity and education for the children. The security measures are also inadequate for the 15 lakh Rohingyas living in 34 camps there, said Prof Rafiqul.
"As ensuring human rights for the Rohingyas is getting tougher every day, their lives are being endangered in Cox's Bazar camps. The locals are also thinking they are being neglected socially and financially, and sometimes getting involved in conflict with the Rohingyas," he pointed out.
Rohingyas are engaging in drug dealings, possession of illegal weapons, prostitution and human trafficking in the camps of Cox's Bazar, which is a matter of great concern, the study mentioned.
The study recommended that additional safe drinking water facilities be installed on the island. Moreover, Rohingya children should receive education on their own language, so that they can keep their cultural practices alive.
Authorities should also help establish cottage industries on the island so that Rohingyas can have diverse livelihoods.
Addressing as the chief guest, Dhaka University's Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Dr ASM Maksud Kamal said, "Privacy, sanitation, utility and child education facilities are poor in Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps. The system is unorganised there.
"But things are far better in Bhasan Char. It is a safe area protected from disasters, where Rohingyas will get access to sustainable livelihoods and the best accommodation facilities."
Prof Maksud then urged authorities concerned to put more pressure on Myanmar for repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas.
Reiterating the same call, CFISS' Chairman Commodore MN Absar said there are some misconceptions and misunderstanding centring the Bhasan Char, so a study on the island was crucial.
After conducting the study, it can be said the char is a stable island and a safer place for the Rohingyas, said Absar, mentioning that the Rohingya people are now voluntarily going to the island.
The seminar was organised at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban in Dhaka University. A number of experts attended the programme and made their remarks at the event.